PtG Article 24.06.2014

Former FIFA investigator calls for 'International Sporting Integrity Unit'

"Forget conferences and talking heads and a five-star gravy train. Look towards forming an International Sporting Integrity Unit," says former FIFA investigator Terry Steans in a comment about match-fixing in British newspaper The Telegraph.

This week, The Telegraph ran an article exposing Ghanaian football officials apparently willing to arrange for matches to be rigged. The officials were filmed by undercover journalists pretending to represent an investment company looking to ‘sponsor’ games.

In a comment piece, Terry Steans, FIFA global investigation coordinator from 2010-2012, warns about the extent of the match-fixing gangs’ reach.

“..match-fixing syndicates with criminal intent have infiltrated all levels of football, from regional to international, to the extent that it can now justly be called transnational,” he explains.

“..fixers have no jurisdictional boundary; they also have plenty of money and resources to make the fix happen. They find it easy to take advantage in football because in general, governing organisations have inadequate governance and lack the practical defenses to protect them from infiltration.”

While recognizing that there has been a significant rise in the number of organisations and initiatives working to eradicate the rigging of matches, he also points to a lack of action from official side.

“Sporting bodies avoid taking responsibility to face the problem; deferring to the police or the government, or just passing the buck between each association and confederation. Few want to take concerted action to prevent and investigate match fixing — and fewer still want to pay for it,” Stearn says.

Instead, Steans proposes the making of an International Sporting Integrity Unit to gather knowledge, information and intelligence transnationally.

“It should centralise all expert knowledge and skill sets, collate all information and intelligence, and provide independent, open and transparent investigation to end the self-appointed investigative whitewash. It should provide advice on effective governance, educational workshops, prevention techniques and reaction strategies for all sports. It should have its own betting monitoring system and in-house bookmaking expertise.”